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Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom

Olympus packs an 8x zoom lens into an amazingly small body, for an amazingly low price.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 7/1/2002

Design

The Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom displays the same general body shape and size as the rest of the C-series, though it has a slightly larger lens barrel (to accommodate the impressive 8x zoom lens). The silver-toned body is boxy but compact, with a size that fits the hand well, and good balance when you're holding it. External control layout is similar to previous models, with a large Mode dial on top of the camera and an array of control buttons on the back panel. The C-720 Ultra Zoom features a 3.0-megapixel CCD, which delivers a maximum image size of 1,984 x 1,488 pixels, definitely suitable for printing as large as 8x10 inches with sharp detail. The most exciting feature on the C-720 is its 8x zoom lens, which, when combined with the 3x digital zoom, gives the camera an effective 24x zoom capability (though with the obvious quality tradeoffs of digital zoom).

The C-720 Zoom measures 4.2 x 3.0 x 3.1 inches (107.5 x 76.4 x 77.5mm), similar in dimensions to its cousins, the C-3020 and C-4040 models. A mixture of plastic and thin aluminum body panels keeps the C-720 Zoom relatively light weight at 11 ounces (315 grams) without batteries, though it does have a reassuring heft when you pick it up (due in part to the larger lens assembly). The camera won't fit into a shirt pocket, but does have a chance at larger coat pockets and purses. It comes with a neckstrap, but I strongly recommend picking up a soft camera case to protect the camera when traveling.

The front of the C-720 is relatively plain, featuring only the lens, self-timer LED, and front of the pop-up flash compartment. The telescoping lens extends about an inch beyond the front of the camera body when powered up in any capture mode. When fully retracted, the lens barrel projects only about a half an inch beyond the depth of the hand grip. When not in use, the lens is protected by a removable plastic lens cap that attaches to the camera with the supplied tether strap. A rubbery plastic grip bar on the inside of the handgrip provides firm purchase for your fingers as they wrap around the camera's body.

On the right side of the camera, the SmartMedia compartment is covered by a hinged plastic door that opens from the back panel. The center of the compartment door hinge serves as the eyelet for attaching the neckstrap.

On the opposite side of the camera is the connector compartment, which houses the DC-In, Video Out, and USB connector ports. A plastic, hinged door protects the jacks when not in use, and snaps firmly shut.

The C-720's top panel has only a few controls on it, just only the Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom Lever), a Mode dial, and pop-up flash compartment (with a Flash Release button).

The back panel layout is logically designed, with all of the control buttons positioned above or to the right of the 1.5-inch LCD monitor. The four-way Arrow Pad serves multiple functions depending on the camera's operating mode, and is adjacent to the right side of the display. Arrayed across the top of the back panel are the Flash / Protect, Spot / Macro (with the added DPOF print feature), and Drive / Erase buttons. Below these are the Power and AE Lock / Rotate buttons. A Display button sits just below the four-way Arrow Pad and controls whether the rear-panel LCD is illuminated. The electronic viewfinder in the upper left corner of the camera shows a miniaturized version of the larger LCD display, and features a diopter adjustment dial for eyeglass wearers.

The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a plastic screw-mount tripod socket. The tripod socket is just a little too close to the battery compartment to make battery changes easy when mounted on a tripod. (This is a pet peeve of mine, but I recognize that most people don't spend as much time with their digicams locked down to a tripod than I do.)

 

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